August 7, 2014 | 7:30pm | Pre-concert chat with host Matthew White at 6:45 in the Royal Bank Cinema
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“Handel doesn’t miss a trick…. theatrical cunning and an all-embracing sense of joy.” (The Vancouver Sun, August 11, 2013) Leave the thorn. Gather the rose. After last summer’s groundbreaking performance of Israel in Egypt and the critical acclaim lavished on 2012’s Orlando, we’ve selected another extraordinary work from Handel’s oeuvre for our 2014 Festival centrepiece. Touring to the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival before coming to Vancouver – a first for EMV – this production will reach greater heights of artistic expression than ever before. Beauty and Pleasure abound in Handel’s first oratorio, the source of his ongoing genius.
Mahony and Sons is proud to sponsor Early Music Vancouver. Join us before or after your concert and make your experience a great one. For reservations visit mahonyandsons.com. We validate parking at our UBC location.
Have you ever dreamed about visiting the past on some momentous occasion? Hearing Lincoln at Gettysburg, seeing Nijinsky dance Spectre de la Rose, watching Hank Aaron break the Babe’s home run record? Here’s a somewhat offbeat nominee for lovers of great music: Imagine being among the eminent Romans invited to the intimate auditorium of the Clementine Order to hear the premiere of an oratorio by the latest virtuoso to take the music-mad aristocracy of the city by storm: a cherubic 22-year-old from Germany by the name of Georg Friedrich Händel.
When his Triumph of Time and Good Counsel had its first performance, Händel was only four years out of his birthplace, the provincial Prussian city of Halle. But acclaim for his dizzying facility as an organist had preceded him, and most of the audience at the Collegio Clementino would have been there more to hear him improvise on that instrument than to listen to a two-hour-long musico-dramatic debate written by a pillar of the Catholic Church establishment, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili.
They got what they came for: Pamphili made room in his pious music-drama for his protege to perform a three-movement organ concerto, in the guise of a “lovely youth” with “wingèd hands” who pops up unexpectedly among the personnel of the Palace of Pleasure described in the libretto.
Did they also appreciate what else they heard that night: the earliest surviving music-drama of one of the greatest composers in that form who ever lived, the first of fifty-odd composed over the next 50 years or so?
There’s reason to believe they did. Despite the steady hostility of an older rival for Pamphili’s patronage, The Triumph of Time was revived annually for at least two years after its premiere: a very rare testimony to the power of the work in a time when even the greatest composers were accustomed to having their music treated like disposable ephemera.
Pamphili spared no effort or expense to ensure the piece got an attentive hearing. He engaged the finest singers in the city, and provided his private orchestra to accompany it, led by the great violin virtuoso Archangelo Corelli, himself among the most eminent living Italian composers. In more than equal exchange for the Cardinal’s support, Händel turned Pamphili’s rather frigid and conventional verse drama into dazzling entertainment, without betraying its roots as a Christian morality play.
The “Story” is simple. Beauty (she could just as easily have been called “the Soul”) has been feeling a little troubled lately. Is there perhaps more to life than an endless pursuit of fun? Her handmaid Pleasure says no, but the figure of Time enters with a different message: Repent your frivolous ways before it’s too late, he thunders. He’s backed up by his more discreet ally Good Counsel, who prefers to work by persuasion rather than threats.
And so, in Pamphili’s libretto, it goes: He says, she says, he says, she says, with the outcome never in doubt: This is 1707, after all, and we’re in the hands of an author who is also a Roman Catholic cardinal.
What turns all the moralizing back-and-forth into real drama is Handel’s endless string of musical surprises: Within a structure of conventional da capo arias, he slips in jigs, lullabies, and calls to battle, seductions, laments, glees, and prayers, each with a distinctive instrumental accompaniment and each daring its performer to cut loose and show us just how dazzling he or she can improvise on the written notes of the songs.
By the time Pleasure is decisively defeated (and departs in a whirlwind of angry coloratura), we have been treated to such a feast of brilliant singing and playing that Beauty’s final peaceful prayer makes a deliciously restful conclusion.
It makes no sense to talk about the greatest this or that in the career of a composer as stupefyingly prolific and consistent as Handel. But The Triumph of Time is still something special: the first emergence into the limelight of an artist clearly marked for greatness, and manifesting the rare kind of energy that makes you want to watch him every step of the way.
Despite that fact, The Triumph of Time was virtually unknown to music-lovers for over two centuries. Even after the great rediscovery of Händel’s dramatic output began in the mid-20th century, it remained obscure, a footnote even in scholarly studies of the composer’s vast output. (The most eminent Händel expert of the day, Winton Dean, barely mentions its name in his three huge and exhaustive volumes on the operas and oratorios.)
Fortunately, the early-music movement led to a re-examination of even the most arcane corners of the Händel repertory, and The Triumph of Time was soon recognized, along with its sister work from Roman days The Resurrection, as a seminal work, presaging much of what the composer achieved, perhaps with more temperance and polish, in the next five decades.
When fantasizing about the creation of this early masterwork, it’s also interesting to consider what might have happened if Carlo Cesarini, Händel’s bitter rival for Cardinal Pamfili’s patronage hadn’t ultimately prevailed. Perhaps there never would have been an “English Handel”, and the young genius, coddled and cossetted, might have elected to stay in Rome.
We’ll never know; but when Cesarini won the battle, there was someone ready to take advantage of the situation: Vincenzo Grimani, a power behind the papal throne, became Handel’s patron, and took him along when he was appointed to the role of papal regent in Naples. But Grimani died in 1710, and Handel was once again on the lookout for a permanent post. As it happened, Georg Ludwig, Duke of Hannover was looking for a house composer at the time, and when Georg was invited to change his name to George and become King of England, guess who went along for the ride? – Roger Downey
Alexander Weimann, music director
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, and as frequent guest with Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as conductor of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, Music Director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and regular guest conductor of ensembles including the Montreal Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa con laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, mediæval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships. From 1990 to 1995, Weimann taught music theory, improvisation, and Jazz at the Munich Musikhochschule. Since 1998, he has been giving master classes in harpsichord and historical performance practice at institutions such as Lunds University in Malmö and the Bremen Musikhochschule, and at North American universities such as The University of California in Berkeley, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, McGill in Montreal, and Mount Allison in New Brunswick. Since 2007, he has conducted several acclaimed opera productions at the Amherst Early Music Festival. He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there.
A multiple Juno and Grammy nominee, Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. Recent highlights include an Opus and Juno award winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with soprano Karina Gauvin, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion with Les Voix Baroques/Arion Baroque Orchestra, and a Juno nominated recording of Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra that was also awarded a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award.
Alex lives with his wife, three children and pets in Ladner BC, and tries to spend as much time as possible in his garden.
Amanda Forsythe, soprano Bellezza
The American soprano Amanda Forsythe, highly praised for her performances on both sides of the Atlantic, sang
Euridice on the recording of Charpentier’s La descente d’Orphée aux enfers with the Boston Early Music Festival which won the 2015 GRAMMY AWARD for Best Opera Recording. Her highly acclaimed CDs have included her début solo album of Handel arias “The Power of Love” with Apollo’s Fire on the Avie label.
She recently toured with the outstanding French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky,performing works based on the Orfeo myth, and subsequently recorded the role of Euridice in a new edition of Gluck’s Orfeo for the ERATO label. Equally at home on the concert platform and on the opera stage, in recent seasons Amanda Forsythe’s major engagements have
included Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Boston Symphony under Andris Nelsons and the Los Angeles
Philharmonic under Susanna Mälkki, Handel’s Sileti venti and Laudate pueri with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas Kraemer, Messiah with Seattle Symphony, Bach’s Magnificat and concert performances as Marzelline
Fidelio with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Sir Antonio Pappano. Following performances as Amour
in Gluck’s Orphée at London’s Royal Opera House, she participated in tours of this work, and of Mozart’s C Minor Mass and Requiem with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. She is a regular soloist with the highly acclaimed baroque ensembles Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO), Apollo’s Fire, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Pacific Musicworks, the Boston Early Music Festival, and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra. She sang the title role of Teseo with PBO at the Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart Festivals under Nicholas
McGegan, and made her début at the Oregon Bach Festival in Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Magnificat under Matthew Halls.
Amanda Forsythe made her USA stage début with the Boston Early Music Festival, where her many roles have included
Poppea and Drusilla L’incoronazione di Poppea, Niobe and Manto (recording) in Steffani’s Niobe, regina di Tebe, Aglaure Psyché (Lully), Venus Venus and Adonis (John Blow), Pallas The Judgment of Paris (Eccles), Isabelle Le Carnaval de Venise (Campra), Serpina La serva padrona and Edilia Almira, Königin von Castilien, for which she received rave reviews.
Having made her début at Seattle Opera as Iris Semele, Amanda Forsythe recently returned there to sing Pamina Die Zauberflöte. Her operatic repertoire also includes Poppea Agrippina, the title role in Partenope, Dorinda Orlando,
Amenaide Tancredi, Bastienne Bastien und Bastienne, Ninfa/Proserpina Orfeo, Amore Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria,
Oberto Alcina, Dafne Apollo e Dafne, Atalanta Xerxes, Vagaus Juditha Triumphans and roles in Les Indes Galantes and
The Fairy Queen. She made her European operatic début in the role of Corinna Il viaggio a Reims at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, subsequently returning to perform Rosalia L’equivoco stravagante, and Jemmy Guillaume Tell, described by one critic as “…the best singing of this crucial part I’ve ever encountered…”. At her invitation, Amanda Forsythe joined the distinguished American mezzo soprano Joyce di Donato in a performance of
Bellini duets in the festival’s ‘Malibran’ recital. Major European opera house engagements have included Dalinda
Ariodante in Geneva and Munich and Barbarina Le nozze di Figaro, Manto in Steffani’s Niobe, regina di Tebe, Amour
in Gluck’s Orphée and Nannetta Falstaff at London’s Royal Opera House. Her performance as Nannetta was described by
Gramophone Magazine as “meltingly beautiful”.
Major engagements in 2018 include her return to the Chicago Symphony to sing Schubert’s Mass No 6 in E Flat under Riccardo Muti and Messiah under Matthew Halls, Alexander’s Feast with Tafelmusik, Iole Hercules with the Handel and Haydn Society and performances with Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Musicworks, the Kymi Sinfonietta, and Charlotte Symphony. Forthcoming opera engagements include her début at the Rome Opera as Pamina, and Steffani’s Orlando Furioso (Angelica) at the 2019 Boston Early Music Festival.
Amanda Forsythe’s recordings include Venus Venus and Adonis, Aglaure in Lully’s Psyché, and La Grande Pretresse
in Lully’s Thésée with the Boston Early Music Festival (all for CPO), Manto in Steffani’s Niobe with BEMF (Erato), the title role in Handel’s Teseo with Philharmonia Baroque (PBO’s own label), Bach’s St. John Passion and Messiah
with Apollo’s Fire (Avie), Dorinda Handel’s Orlando with Early Music Vancouver (ATMA) and Haydn’s Creation with Boston Baroque (Linn). She also sings on the DVD recordings of the Pesaro productions of L’equivoco stravagante
and Guillaume Tell as well as Manto in the Royal Opera production of Steffani’s Niobe (Opus Arte). Her latest CD of Steffani duets with the Boston Early Music Festival was awarded the Diapason d’Or in January 2018.
Krisztina Szabó, soprano Piacere
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano, Krisztina Szabó, is happy to have a varied career on the concert and operatic stage, known equally for her promotion and performance of contemporary works as well as her interpretation of early music. This season, Krisztina Szabó will appear as Gertrude in Hänsel und Gretel with Canadian Opera Company, makes débuts with Vancouver Symphony (Mozart Requiem), Cleveland Symphony (Mozart C Minor Mass), and Portland Baroque Orchestra (Händel’s Messiah), and will return to Music of the Baroque, Chicago (Bach B minor Mass), and Tafelmusik (St. John Passion). In the 2018-19 season, Ms. Szabó, made her Berlin début singing George Benjamin’s opera, Into the Little Hill with Mahler Chamber Orchestra; appeared with Tafelmusik in both Steffani: Drama & Devotion and Händel’s Messiah; made her St. Louis Symphony début in Händel’s Messiah and her Early Music Seattle début in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. She was featured soloist with the NAC Orchestra, Ottawa, for the world première of Ian Cusson’s Where There’s A Wall, and she was featured soloist for Pax Christi Chorale’s world premiere performance of Miziwe (Everywhere…)by Barbara Craoll. She also performed the Canadian premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s opera, The Raven, for the New Music Festival at the University of Toronto and appeared with Against the Grain Theatre in Claude Vivier’s opera, Kopernikus. Ms. Szabó has been nominated twice for a Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance. Krisztina Szabó is based in Toronto, Ontario and is a member of the Voice Faculty at the University of Toronto. Krisztina Szabó is happy to be making a return to Early Music Vancouver for Händel’s Messiah!
Reginald L. Mobley, alto Disinganno
Countertenor Reginald Mobley fully intended to speak his art through watercolours and oil pastels until circumstance demanded that his own voice should speak for itself. Since reducing his visual colour palette to the black and white of a score, he has endeavored to open a wider spectrum onstage.
His natural habitat as a soloist is within the works of Bach, Charpentier, Handel, and Purcell. Not to be undone by a strict diet of cantatas, odes, and oratorios, however, Reggie finds himself equally comfortable in rep of later periods and genres. A long-time member of the twice GRAMMY® nominated Miami-based professional vocal ensemble, Seraphic Fire, Reggie has also had the privilege to lend his talents to other ensembles in the US and abroad including John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir, the Handel and Haydn Society, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Pacific MusicWorks, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, Vox Early Music, Portland Baroque Orchestra, North Carolina Baroque Ensemble, Ensemble VIII, San Antonio Symphony and Symphony Nova Scotia.
Not confined to conventional countertenor repertoire, the “barn-burning, […]phenomenal” male alto has a fair amount of non-classical work under his belt. Not long after becoming a countertenor, he was engaged in several musical theatre productions. Most notable among them was the titular role in Rupert Holmes’ Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Jacey Squires in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man. In addition to his work in musical theatre, he performed many cabaret shows and sets of jazz standards and torch songs in jazz clubs in and around Tokyo, Japan. Reggie studied voice at the University of Florida with Jean Ronald LaFond, and at Florida State University with Roy Delp.
Colin Balzer, tenor Tempo
Canadian lyric tenor Colin Balzer’s North American engagements include recitals at New York’s Frick Collection and on the Philadelphia Chamber Music series; concerts with the Portland, New Jersey, Utah, Victoria, Ann Arbor, Québec, Atlanta, and Indianapolis Symphonies; Early Music Vancouver; Tafelmusik and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Les Violons du Roy; the National and Calgary Philharmonics; Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra; Musica Sacra and the Oratorio Society of New York at New York’s Carnegie Hall. In addition, he is regularly featured in opera productions at the Boston Early Music Festival.
Guest soloist appearances abroad include work with Collegium Vocale Gent led by Philippe Herreweghe, Fundacao OSESP Orchestra and Louis Langrée, Les Musiciens du Louvre under Marc Minkowski, Rotterdam Philharmonic led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Akademie für alte Musik under Marcus Creed, and the RIAS Kammerchor, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Radio Kamer Filharmonie, Estonian Chamber Choir, and Musik Podium Stuttgart. Operatic forays include the role of Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Bolshoi and in Aix-en-Provence and Mozart’s La finta giardiniera in Aix and Luxembourg.
Particularly esteemed as a recitalist, he has been welcomed at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Britten Festival in Aldeburgh, the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival, the Wratislavia Cantans in Poland, and at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden. Recordings to date include Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch and Eisler and Henze song anthologies. Mr. Balzer holds the rare distinction of earning the Gold Medal at the Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau with the highest score in 25 years. Born in British Columbia, he received his formal musical training at the University of British Columbia with David Meek and with Edith Wiens at the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg, Augsburg.
Pacific Baroque Orchestra
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) is recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting and innovative ensembles performing “early music for modern ears”. PBO brings the music of the past up to date by performing with cutting-edge style and enthusiasm. Formed in 1990, the orchestra quickly established itself as a force in Vancouver’s burgeoning music scene with the ongoing support of Early Music Vancouver.
In 2009, PBO welcomed Alexander Weimann as Artistic Director. His imaginative programming and expert leadership have drawn in many new concertgoers, and his creativity and engaging musicianship have carved out a unique and vital place in the cultural landscape of Vancouver.
PBO regularly joins forces with internationally celebrated Canadian guest artists, providing performance opportunities for Canadian musicians while exposing West Coast audiences to a spectacular variety of talent. The Orchestra has also toured BC, the northern United States and across Canada as far as the East Coast. The musicians of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra have been at the core of many large-scale productions by Early Music Vancouver in recent years, including many summer festival performances led by Alexander Weimann.